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Afghanistan is ripe for proxy war

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 20, 2017

Russia has hinted in the past that the United States is covertly sponsoring the Islamic State in Afghanistan. On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson raised the bar by alleging that “foreign fighters” who were transferred by “unknown helicopters” have perpetrated a massacre of Hazara Shias in the Sar-e-Pol province in northern Afghanistan. The spokesperson said:

  • We can see attempts to stir up ethnic conflict in the country… Cases of unidentified helicopter flights to territory controlled by extremists in other northern provinces of Afghanistan are also recorded. For example, there is evidence that on August 8, four helicopters made flights from the airbase of the Afghan National Army’s 209th corps in Mazar-i-Sharif to the area captured by the militants in the Aqcha district of the Jowzjan province. It is noteworthy that witnesses of these flights began to fall off the radar of law enforcement agencies. It seems that the command of the NATO forces controlling the Afghan sky stubbornly refuses to notice these incidents.

From the above, it appears that sections of the Afghan armed forces and the NATO command (which controls Afghan air space) are hand in glove in these covert operations. No doubt, this is a very serious allegation. The attack on the Hazara Shias must be taken as a message intended for Tehran. Historically and culturally, Iran has affinities with the Hazara Shia community in Afghanistan. Possibly, the Trump administration, which has vowed to overthrow the Iranian regime, is opening a ‘second front’ by the IS against Iran from the east.

Interestingly, the Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement on Friday on the alarming drug situation in Afghanistan. It pointed out that:

  • A sharp increase in drug production is expected in Afghanistan this year and one-third of the country’s population is now involved in cultivation of opium poppy.
  • The geography of the Afghan drug trafficking has expanded and now reaches the African continent.
  • Tonnes of chemicals for processing narcotics are illegally imported into Afghanistan – with Italy, France and Netherlands “among main suppliers”.
  • The US and NATO are either unwilling or incapable of curbing the illegal activity.

Russia and Iran cannot turn a blind eye to the hostile activities by the US (and NATO) in their backyard, transforming the anti-Taliban war into a proxy war. They cannot but view the Afghan conflict through the prism of their deepening tensions with the US.

What are Russia’s options? The Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with the top brass in Moscow on August 18 that the Afghan conflict poses a threat to Central Asia’s stability. He said that Russia plans to hold joint military exercises later this year with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Russia has military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Again, Ambassador Zamir Kabulov, Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan, said recently that if the Afghan government and the US are unable to counter the IS threat, Russia will resort to military force. Kabulov disclosed that Russia has raised in the UN Security Council the air dropping of supplies for the IS fighters in at least three provinces in northern Afghanistan by unidentified aircraft.

Of course, it is inconceivable that Russia will put “boots on the ground” in Afghanistan. But if the IS breaches the borders of the Central Asian states, it becomes the “red line”, Russia will hit back. Russia is reinforcing its bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Significantly, in a joint military exercise with Tajikistan in July, Russia tested its Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles, one of the most advanced weapons in the Russian arsenal, with a range of 500 kilometers and a payload of 700 kg. Iskander is equipped with terminal guidance systems with the capability to overcome missile defences. Iskander’s accuracy could be better than 10 meters. (Russia has deployed the deadly weapon to Syria.)

With the exit of White House strategist Steve Bannon, an inveterate anti-war ideologue in the Trump administration who wanted the Afghan war to be brought to an end, the generals now have the upper hand in controlling the US policy. Defence Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor HR McMaster favour deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan. The ‘known unknown’ is John Kelly, whom Trump recently appointed as his chief of staff. But there are enough indications that Kelly (a retired Marine Corps general and father of a fallen Marine, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010) almost certainly shares the opinion of Mattis and McMaster.

The more one looks at it, President Donald Trump’s real challenge is not about winning the war against the Taliban, but the high risk he’ll be incurring, by taking his generals’ advice, to put his imprimatur on a full-fledged proxy war in Afghanistan against Russia, Iran and China.

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland ‘wholly unprepared’ for nuclear weapons accident on its roads – report

© Nukewatch UK / Facebook
RT | August 22, 2017

Nuclear warheads surrounded by explosives are regularly transported on British roads, yet authorities are “wholly unprepared” to handle an accident, a damning report has revealed.

A “critical gap” in the protection of Britons has been identified by Nukewatch UK, amid claims public safety is being put at risk by the Scottish Government.

The report, ‘Unready Scotland’, reveals weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are driven across the country around eight times every year, without police accompanying them and without public knowledge.

The convoys travel with a potentially-deadly cocktail of explosives and nuclear weapons packed inside – yet those traveling alongside the huge trucks remain blissfully unaware of the dangerous cargo.

Scottish councils have failed to carry out individual assessments of the routes taken by the massive convoys. This means vital evacuation time could be lost and the number of casualties could rise rapidly should there be an incident.

The potential contamination zone for an accident involving nukes is 24 miles, according to some experts, meaning entire villages and towns could be engulfed.

“The radioactive material in the warheads includes both plutonium and uranium, with a potential dispersal range of at least 5km,” Nuke Watch reports. “In addition to this, warhead materials include a number of toxic and hazardous substances.”

Unready Scotland suggests there is “no evidence” that authorities would be able to cope with a disaster on the route between the Aldermaston and Burghfield atomic weapon plants in Berkshire and RNAD Coulport on Loch Long.

In the event of nuclear fallout, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would prioritize the mobilization of troops to secure the weapons – and the safety of the public would fall squarely on the shoulders of local authorities and emergency responders.

Yet the frightening report shows that those who would be first on the scene would be “unprepared” and unable to launch into action.

The researchers warn that police, paramedics and the Scottish Government, who would need to handle a mass evacuation, are “wholly unprepared to discharge that responsibility.”

Although some claim an accident involving a convoy is unlikely, there have already been underreported incidents. In May, a military convoy of nuclear warhead carriers was left stranded on the side of the M40 motorway when the escort broke down. Fortunately in this instance there were no live warheads onboard.

Despite authorities claiming potential terrorist plots make it impossible for them to reveal details of the convoys to the public, activists claim the information is already in the public domain.

The report claims there is “no justification for not informing the public about the existence of the convoy traffic and its attendant risks.”

“The simple fact that these trucks carry nuclear bombs on public roads is enough to cause very serious concern, amounting to alarm,” said Nuke Watch. The report says the police officers manning the convoy “very frequently” have no idea what they are protecting – and would be unable to react in an emergency, the report says.

Astonishingly, some authorities “rely on generic risk assessments conducted within their Resilience Partnerships.”

Practice runs have been carried out on a small scale, according to Local Authority and Emergency Services Information (LAESI) reports, but nowhere close to the scale of the potential damage.

In 1990 it was predicted by nuclear engineer John Large that an accident involving nuclear warheads could spread contamination “at least 40 kilometres.”

Nuke Watch has called for an urgent review into the country’s response to a nuclear accident.

It claims since community safety is wholly devolved to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, the Scottish National Party (SNP) Government has failed in its duty to put adequate plans in place.

RT has contacted the SNP for comment.

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism | | Leave a comment

Johnson & Johnson Hides Link Between Baby Powder and Ovarian Cancer

LA jury awards record $417mn in lawsuit linking J&J baby powder to cancer

RT | August 22, 2017

A jury in Los Angeles, California, has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a woman who claimed the talc in the company’s iconic baby powder caused her ovarian cancer.

The verdict follows a series of court rulings against J&J over the product.

The plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, alleged that J&J had failed to adequately warn consumers about its talcum powder’s potential cancer risks when used for feminine hygiene.

Echeverria had used the baby powder on a daily basis since the 1950s until two years ago, according to court papers.

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. Her lawsuit said she developed the cancer as a “proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder.”

“Mrs. Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer and she said to me all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years,” her attorney Mark Robinson said.

J&J will appeal the jury’s decision, claiming that scientific evidence supports the safety of Johnson’s baby powder, according to the company’s spokeswoman Carol Goodrich.

The Los Angeles jury verdict is the latest and largest in a series of rulings against J&J for its baby powder, the regular use of which hundreds of women claimed caused their ovarian cancer.

In May, a court in St. Louis, Missouri ordered J&J to pay over $110 million to a Virginia woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after decades of using its talcum powder.

Earlier, three other lawsuits in St. Louis against the company and its baby powder had similar outcomes — with juries awarding damages of $72 million, $70.1 million and $55 million, respectively.

While the verdicts were awarded to women who regularly used the company’s baby powder for feminine hygiene, the question whether the product does any harm to babies did not come up.

Over 2,000 lawsuits were filed in different US cities accusing J&J of insufficient warning to consumers about cancer risks connected to its talc-containing products.

Some of the lawsuits were tossed out. In March, a St. Louis jury rejected the claims of a Tennessee woman with ovarian and uterine cancer who blamed talcum powder for her cancers. A judge in New Jersey tossed out two similar cases saying the plaintiffs’ lawyers did not present reliable evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Beware the “The Cultural Civil War” Narrative: You’re Being Played

By Charles Hugh Smith | of two minds | August 21, 2017

There is always common ground for those who dare to seek it.

Remember the “Russians hacked our election!” hysteria–or have you already forgotten? That entire narrative collapsed under a deluge of factual evidence that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) data release was an insider job, and a compelling lack of evidence of any other Russian hacking.

That failed narrative has now been replaced with a new mass hysteria: “a new cultural Civil War is inevitable.” In this narrative, America has succumbed to us-versus-them divisions divided by all-or-nothing ideological bright lines.

Snap out of it, America: you’re being played, just as you were played by the absurd “Russia hacked the election” mania.

The core strategy here is the destruction of any common ground: once the delusion that there is no common ground left has been cemented by relentless mainstream and social media hysteria/ propaganda, the populace fragments into echo-chamber fiefdoms of ideological conformity that are easily manipulated by the political-financial power structure.

Once the populace has been fragmented into ideologically divisive camps, controlling the resulting mass of warring mobs is easy. Rather than recognize the commonality of their powerlessness and impoverishment, the fragmented fiefdoms are easily turned on each other:

From the point of view of each fragmented fiefdom, , the problem isn’t structural, i.e. the dominance of extreme concentrations of wealth and power; the “problem” is the other cultural-ideological fiefdoms.

Once the masses accept this false division and the destruction of common ground, their power to reverse the extreme concentrations of wealth and power is shattered. The play is as old as civilization itself: conjure up extremists (paying them when necessary), goad the formation of opposing extremists, then convince the populace that these extremists have been normalized, i.e. your friends and neighbors already belong to one or the other.

This normalization then sets up the relentless demands to choose a side– the classic techniques of misdirection and false choice.

Just as you’re sold a triple-bacon cheeseburger or a hybrid auto, you’re being sold a completely fabricated cultural civil war. There have always been extremists on every edge of the ideological spectrum, just as there have always been religious zealots.

In a healthy society, these fringe pools of self-reinforcing fanaticism are given their proper place: they are outliers, representing self-reinforcing black holes of confirmation bias of a few.

In times of social, political and financial stress, such groups pop up like mushrooms. In times of media saturation, a relative handful can gain enormous exposure and importance because the danger they pose sells adverts and attracts eyeballs/viewers.

Add a little fragmentation, virtue-signaling, demands for ideological conformity and voila, you get a deeply fragmented and deranged populace that is incapable of recognizing the dire straits it is in or recognizing the structural sources of its impoverishment and powerlessness.

In other words, you get an easily malleable populace at false war with itself.

There is always common ground for those who dare to seek it. The Powers That Be are blowing up the bridges as fast as they can, whipping up fear and hatred of the Other, fanning the flames of extremism and claiming extremists are now normalized and everywhere.

All of this is false. Would you buy an entirely manipulated cultural civil war if it was advertised as such? If not, then don’t buy into the false (but oh so useful to the ruling elites) narrative of an “inevitable cultural Civil War.”

August 21, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

The Lies on Afghanistan

By Matthew Hoh | CounterPunch | August 21, 2017

There has never been progress by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, unless you are asking the U.S. military contractors or the Afghan drug barons, of whom an extremely large share are our allies in the Afghan government, militias and security forces, there has only been suffering and destruction. American politicians, pundits and generals will speak about “progress” made by the 70,000 American troops put into Afghanistan by President Obama beginning in 2009, along with an additional 30,000 European troops and 100,000 private contractors, however the hard and awful true reality is that the war in Afghanistan has only escalated since 2009, never stabilizing or deescalating; the Taliban has increased in strength by tens of thousands, despite tens of thousands of casualties and prisoners; and American and Afghan casualties have continued to grow every year of the conflict, with U.S. casualties declining only when U.S. forces began to withdraw in mass numbers from parts of Afghanistan in 2011, while Afghan security forces and civilians have experienced record casualties every year since those numbers began to be kept by the UN.

Similarly, any progress in reconstructing or developing Afghanistan has been found to be near [non] existent despite the more than $100 billion spent by the United States on such efforts by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR). $100 billion, by the way, is more money than was spent on the Marshall Plan when that post-WWII reconstruction plan is put into inflation adjusted dollars. Oft repeated claims, such as millions of Afghan school girls going to school, millions of Afghans having access to improved health care and Afghan life expectancy dramatically increasing, and the construction of an Afghan job building economy have been exposed as nothing more than public relations lies. Often displayed as modern Potemkin Villages to visiting journalists and congressional delegations and utilized to justify continued budgets for the Pentagon and USAID, and, so, to allow for more killing, like America’s reconstruction program in Iraq, the reconstruction program in Afghanistan has proven to be a failure and its supposed achievements shown to be virtually non-existent, as documented by multiple investigations by SIGAR, as well as by investigators and researchers from organizations such as the UN, EU, IMF, World Bank, etc.

Tonight, the American people will hear again the great lie about the progress the American military once made in Afghanistan after “the Afghan Surge”, just as we often hear the lie about how the American military had “won” in Iraq. In Iraq it was a political compromise that brought about a cessation of hostilities for a few short years and it was the collapse of the political balance that had been struck that led to the return to the violence of the last several years. In Afghanistan there has never even been an attempt at such a political solution and all the Afghan people have seen in the last eight years, every year, has been a worsening of the violence.

Americans will also hear tonight how the U.S. military has done great things for the Afghan people. You would be hard pressed to find many Afghans outside of the incredibly corrupt and illegitimate government, a better definition of a kleptocracy you will not find, that the U.S. keeps in power with its soldiers and $35 billion a year, who would agree with the statements of the American politicians, the American generals and the pundits, the latter of which are mostly funded, directly or indirectly, by the military companies. It is important to remember that for three straight elections in Afghanistan the United States government has supported shockingly fraudulent elections, allowing American soldiers to kill and die while presidential and parliamentary elections were brazenly stolen. It is also important to remember that many members of the Afghan government are themselves warlords and drug barons, many of them guilty of some of the worst human rights abuses and war crimes, the same abuses of which the Taliban are guilty, while the current Ghani government, and the previous Karzai government, have allowed egregious crimes to continue against women, including laws that allow men to legally rape their wives.

Whatever President Trump announces tonight about Afghanistan, a decision he teased on Twitter, as if the announcement were a new retail product launch or television show episode, as opposed to the somber and painful reality of war, we can be assured the lies about American progress in Afghanistan will continue, the lies about America’s commitment to human rights and democratic values will continue, the profits of the military companies and drug barons will also continue, and of course the suffering of the Afghan people will surely continue.

Matthew Hoh is a member of the advisory boards of Expose Facts, Veterans For Peace and World Beyond War. In 2009 he resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama Administration. He previously had been in Iraq with a State Department team and with the U.S. Marines. He is a Senior Fellow with the Center for International Policy.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

US Wages Cyberwar Abroad Under Cover of “Activism”

By Joseph Thomas – New Eastern Outlook – 20.08.2017

The threat of cyberterrorism has competed for centre stage in American politics with fears of “Russian hackers” disrupting everything from elections to electrical grids. And yet as US policymakers wield threats of cyberterrorism to promote a long and growing list of countermeasures and pretexts for expanding its conflict with Moscow, it is simultaneously promoting very real cyberterrorism globally.

Worst of all, it does so under the guise of “activism.”

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently published a paper titled, “Growing Cyber Activism in Thailand.”

In it, readers may have expected a detailed description of how independent local activists were using information technology to inform the public, communicate with policymakers and organise themselves more efficiently.

Instead, readers would find a list of US-funded fronts posing as “nongovernmental organisations” (NGOs) engaged in subversion, including attacks carried out against Thai government websites aimed at crippling them, the dumping of private information of ordinary citizens online and coercing policymakers into adopting their foreign-funded and directed agenda.

US-Backed Cyberterrorism

The paper cites petitions created by the US-funded Thai Netizen Network on the US-based petition site, Change.org as well as distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) aimed at crippling essential government websites, a campaign defended by US-funded Thai Netizen as being “virtual civil disobedience.”

The paper would claim (our emphasis):

The most innovative countermeasure was a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks: an anonymous group, Thailand F5 Cyber Army, declared a cyberwar on the Thai government by encouraging netizens to visit listed official websites and continuously press F5 on their keyboards to refresh the pages. The goal was to overwhelm web servers and cause a temporary collapse of the websites of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Government House of Thailand, National Legislative Assembly, and Internal Security Operations Command. The group disseminated detailed instructions on the operation to its anonymous activists. It then demanded that the junta cancel its Single Gateway proposal.

Most of the attacks were successful. Activists wanted to demonstrate the government’s technological ineptitude and its lack of capacity to manage the Single Gateway. Arthit Suriyawongkul, coordinator of the Thai Netizen Network, described the campaign as virtual civil disobedience—an online version of the nonviolent resistance practiced by civil rights groups in the United States. 

In another case, an activist group called Anonymous launched a #BoycottThailand campaign on Twitter and reportedly hacked government websites, snatched confidential information from official databases, and shared it online.

The Thai Netizen Network is funded by the US State Department via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) subsidiary, Freedom House, as well as convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society and a number of other foreign governments and corporate-funded foundations.

The role of a foreign-funded front coordinating efforts to undermine Thailand’s national security, including promoting cyberterrorism as “civil disobedience,” carries with it many implications. That the US is the foreign state promoting these activities in Thailand, undermines its own efforts to define and combat cyberterrorism back home.

What is Cyberterrorism?  

Cyberterrorism is described on the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) website as:

… the use of computer network tools to shut down critical national infrastructures (e.g., energy, transportation, government operations) or to coerce or intimidate a government or civilian population.

Attacking government websites millions of people across Thailand depend on for information and services while pilfering the personal information of thousands of ordinary citizens clearly fits the definition of not only cyberterrorism because of the political motivations involved, but also malicious criminality in general.

Unlike alleged Russian hacks which divulged emails detailing impropriety among American politicians, the information pilfered by US-backed hackers in Thailand included the personal information of  millions of ordinary citizens using government services as part of their daily lives.

Bangkok Post would fill in the missing information intentionally omitted from the Carnegie Endowment paper, reporting that:

Files posted by Anonymous and examined by the Bangkok Post appear to be from the court system, as the Anonymous posters claimed.

An SQL database file of 1.1 gigabytes contains thousands of names, ID card numbers, photos, email addresses, personal phone numbers and more — all in clear text.

By dumping this information online, US-backed hackers targeted ordinary citizens, jeopardising their privacy and exposing them to criminal elements the world over involved in identity theft.

US Cyberterrorism is not “Activism”

The Carnegie Endowment paper itself was drafted by Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, assistant professor of political science at Thammasat University, Thailand. She is also cited as a member of the Carnegie Endowment’s Civic Activism Network. Not only is she an active, contributing member of Thailand’s foreign-backed opposition, she is admittedly involved in a foreign think-tank funded by foreign corporate interests.

The Carnegie Endowment includes among its sponsors in its 2016 annual report; the US government, pharmaceutical giants including Gilead, petrochemical monopolies including Chevron, British Petroleum and Shell, defence contractors including Lockheed Martin and several automakers including Ford.

Like many other episodes of extraterritorial political interference up to and including military intervention, America’s meddling in Thailand is done on behalf of corporate interests seeking to expand their respective and collective hegemony both regionally in Asia vis-a-vis Beijing, and globally. This interference is done under the cover of rights advocacy, both by the think tanks and foundations funding it and those in Thailand receiving foreign cash.

The US use of cyberterrorism in Thailand and beyond should come as no surprise. It augments already ongoing efforts by US-backed opposition in Thailand to destabilise and upend Thailand’s political order which has included armed terrorism.

Most recently, a string of bombings plagued Bangkok, including one targeting a hospital. At various junctures during Thailand’s political conflict, foreign-backed opposition has brought militants into the streets. In 2010, nearly 100 would die over the course of several weeks, culminating in citywide arson leaving areas of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, resembling a war zone.

To see US-sponsored authors attempting to promote cyberterrorism as “activism” in Thailand also comes as no surprise. When Thailand’s opposition carries out armed terrorism, US-sponsored media and policy think tanks often attempt to spin it as well. Other forms of more traditional subversion are also regularly defended by the US and its myriad fronts posing as rights advocates as “activism.”

Understanding that it is not “activism,” but by America’s own very definition, cyberterrorism, helps disarm this malicious campaign posing as “civil disobedience” and “activism,” and allows nations like Thailand to defend themselves through enhanced technological security measure as well as legislation.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Left, You Have Been Duped

By Richard Hugus | August 20, 2017

On August 19, a week after a heavily publicized clash over a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, an estimated 8,000 people converged on Boston Common to protest a speaking event organized by a group calling itself the Boston Free Speech Movement. Who are the Boston Free Speech Movement and what do they stand for? We’ll never know because antifascists, leftists, anti-racists, and progressives of Boston prevented them from even speaking. Some might say this was a good thing — no one wants to hear from bigots (if that’s who they were) — but in fact the left in all its self-righteousness was duped into an assault on the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees the right of free speech, for everyone. The left have been the pawns of much more powerful forces who, if they aren’t organizing these news events and provocations outright, are certainly happy to see precedents set for publicly shutting down free speech by the use of force. First it will be the speech of fascists, then it will be the speech of anybody the authorities don’t like, including leftists.

Suddenly we are being confronted with organizations who claim to know what is or is not appropriate for the rest of us to hear. Now that sides have been established — one which can decide what is and isn’t acceptable speech, and another which is forbidden to speak on pain of attack, all that remains is for the powerful to make sure their narrative is the one that’s allowed. Isn’t this fascism? Aren’t people who claim to be anti-fascist actually doing what classic fascists do?

It’s not a coincidence that just prior to these speaking events being shut down, Google, Inc. asserted its right to decide what is and is not a legitimate news source. At the same time the US Congress is considering legislation that would make it illegal for US citizens to support boycott, divestment, or sanctions against Israel. Not surprisingly, the pro-Israel Anti Defamation League (ADL) has been brought on by Google to advise them on which news sources are legitimate and which are not. Google now has such a monopoly on information on the Internet that it is in a position to bury unapproved news sources forever. The ADL will therefore be able to effectively censor any negative news about what Israel is doing in Palestine and the middle east, just as AIPAC, through its ownership of the US Congress, will be able to censor free speech of American citizens when it comes to, once again, Israel.

In the ‘50s the ADL monitored “pinkos” for the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. In the ‘90s ADL monitored activists working to end apartheid in South Africa, in the 2000s the ADL began monitoring Arab American organizations and mosques. Today the ADL monitors pro-Palestine groups on college campuses. In each case the ADL has gone after “extremism and hate speech” in the US, as defined by Israel.

One wonders, why does Israel, a foreign country, have such a say on what people in the US can and can’t talk about?

There is no way to censor speech without a point of view or agenda. The agenda is usually dictated by whoever has power. Thus censorship serves those in power. When we take part in it, we serve the power.

People are apparently upset about an upsurge of Nazism. Why weren’t they in the streets when neocon Victoria Nuland and the US State Department organized a coup in Ukraine with the overt assistance of neo-Nazis? Why were Nazis okay during Obama’s presidency but not during Trump’s?

Where was the outrage when Hillary Clinton and the US State Department attacked and destroyed Libya? The liberal left considered this a “humanitarian intervention,” just as it did when the US decimated Yugoslavia.

Why is it that after six years of siege and murder committed by US proxy forces in Syria, the only national demonstration that could be mustered in Washington was on the issue of private remarks Trump once made about grabbing women — the famous “pussy hat” demonstration?

Why is it that the liars in the mainstream press could get away with false stories of chemical attacks in Syria being carried out by the Syrian government when it was obvious that the attacks were carried out as false flags by US proxy forces? Why are Syrians still being bombed and killed every day by US “coalition” forces with no protest?

Why is it that Iraq is no longer a concern, after 26 years of genocidal assault by Uncle Sam, with efforts now being made to balkanize Iraq through support for “Kurdistan”? Why are US troops still there? Why are they still in Afghanistan? Where are the masses taking to the streets to shout down the liars making these policies?

Why is it the business of the US to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs, even to the point of military intervention? Has Venezuela harmed the US in some way? Has the left swallowed yet again the lie that the US is concerned about human rights in another country?

Why is it that Palestinians have been forgotten, as Israel, the US’s closest ally, transparently conducts genocide against them, year after year, so that today Israel can talk openly of forced transfer of the entire Arab population of Palestine. Isn’t terror also being committed when Israeli settlers routinely ram their cars into Palestinians in the street, or is it just terror when this happens in Europe?

Why is it that the US supports a state for Jewish people only that necessarily discriminates again non-Jewish Christians and Muslims? Isn’t discrimination on the basis of religion a hate crime? Isn’t the ADL in a conflict of interests when it claims to be an authority on hate crimes while representing such a state? Has the left ever repudiated its long record of blocking for Israel and Israel’s crimes?

Why is it that the virtuous left has nothing better to do than face off with a few obvious provocateurs with their over-the-top nazi slogans while the US — their country, in their name — is actively supporting Saudi Arabia in its destruction of a practically defenseless Yemen?

Where has the left been in its opposition to US government and media “hate speech” and war-baiting against Russia, China, and Iran? Is World War III not a problem? Did something lead leftists to believe that life on earth was not important right now?

Is the US threat of a nuclear attack on North Korea a side issue — something to be dealt with only after facing off with the Klan?

What about the murder of millions of Arabs and Muslims since 9-11 on the basis of a false story about who did 9-11? Surely there is a case to be made here for discrimination on the basis of religion, if not serial mass murder, based on a pretext which itself was an open crime for all the world to see. Why does the left consider discussion of this crime unimportant and passé?

That the left has mobilized to stomp on a handful of people in Charlottesville and Boston only proves its impotence. It’s like the man who has been frustrated at work all day who comes home and kicks his dog.

The worst of it all is that both the left and right have been suckered into a division which will use up all their energy and get plenty of attention from the press while the real crimes and the real criminals roll steadily along, laughing at the stupidity of everyone involved and the ease with which they were manipulated.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 2 Comments

Russia-gate’s Evidentiary Void

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | August 18, 2017

The New York Times’ unrelenting anti-Russia bias would be almost comical if the possible outcome were not a nuclear conflagration and maybe the end of life on planet Earth.

A classic example of the Times’ one-sided coverage was a front-page article on Thursday expressing the wistful hope that a Ukrainian hacker whose malware was linked to the release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails in 2016 could somehow “blow the whistle on Russian hacking.”

Though full of airy suspicions and often reading like a conspiracy theory, the article by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins contained one important admission (buried deep inside the “jump” on page A8 in my print edition), a startling revelation especially for those Americans who have accepted the Russia-did-it groupthink as an established fact.

The article quoted Jeffrey Carr, the author of a book on cyber-warfare, referring to a different reality: that the Russia-gate “certainties” blaming the DNC “hack” on Russia’s GRU military intelligence service or Russia’s FSB security agency lack a solid evidentiary foundation.

“There is not now and never has been a single piece of technical evidence produced that connects the malware used in the DNC attack to the GRU, FSB or any agency of the Russian government,” Carr said.

Yet, before that remarkable admission had a chance to sink into the brains of Times’ readers whose thinking has been fattened up on a steady diet of treating the “Russian hack” as flat fact, Times’ editors quickly added that “United States intelligence agencies, however, have been unequivocal in pointing a finger at Russia.”

The Times’ rebuke toward any doubts about Russia-gate was inserted after Carr’s remark although the Times had already declared several times on page 1 that there was really no doubt about Russia’s guilt.

“American intelligence agencies have determined Russian hackers were behind the electronic break-in of the Democratic national Committee,” the Times reported, followed by the assertion that the hacker’s “malware apparently did” get used by Moscow and then another reminder that “Washington is convinced [that the hacking operation] was orchestrated by Moscow.”

By repeating the same point on the inside page, the Times editors seemed to be saying that any deviant views on this subject must be slapped down promptly and decisively.

A Flimsy Assessment

But that gets us back to the problem with the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment,” which — contrary to repeated Times’ claims — was not the “consensus” view of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, but rather the work of a small group of “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies: the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency. And, they operated under the watchful eye of President Obama’s political appointees, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was the one who called them “hand-picked.”

Those analysts presented no real evidence to support their assessment, which they acknowledged was not a determination of fact, but rather what amounted to their best guess based on what they perceived to be Russian motives and capabilities.

The Jan. 6 assessment admitted as much, saying its “judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

Much of the unclassified version of the report lambasted Russia’s international TV network RT for such offenses as hosting a 2012 presidential debate for third-party candidates excluded from the Republican-Democratic debate, covering the Occupy Wall Street protests, and reporting on dangers from “fracking.” The assessment described those editorial decisions as assaults on American democracy.

But rather than acknowledge the thinness of the Jan. 6 report, the Times – like other mainstream news outlets – treated it as gospel and pretended that it represented a “consensus” of all 17 intelligence agencies even though it clearly never did. (Belatedly, the Times slipped in a correction to that falsehood in one article although continuing to use similar language in subsequent stories so an unsuspecting Times reader would not be aware of how shaky the Russia-gate foundation is.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have denied repeatedly that the Russian government was the source of the two batches of Democratic emails released via WikiLeaks in 2016, a point that the Times also frequently fails to acknowledge. (This is not to say that Putin and Assange are telling the truth, but it is a journalistic principle to include relevant denials from parties facing accusations.)

Conspiracy Mongering

The rest of Thursday’s Times article veered from the incomprehensible to the bizarre, as the Times reported that the hacker, known only as “Profexer,” is cooperating with F.B.I. agents inside Ukraine.

Yet, the reliance on Ukraine to provide evidence against Russia defies any objective investigative standards. The Ukrainian government is fiercely anti-Russian and views itself as engaged in an “information war” with Putin and his government.

Ukraine’s SBU security service also has been implicated in possible torture, according to United Nations investigators who were denied access to Ukrainian government detention facilities housing ethnic Russian Ukrainians who resisted the violent coup in February 2014, which was spearheaded by neo-Nazis and other extreme nationalists and overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

The SBU also has been the driving force behind the supposedly “Dutch-led” investigation into the July 17, 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. That inquiry has ignored evidence that a rogue Ukrainian force may have been responsible – not even addressing a Dutch/NATO intelligence report stating that all anti-aircraft missile batteries in eastern Ukraine on that day were under the control of the Ukrainian military – and instead tried to pin the atrocity on Russia, albeit with no suspects yet charged.

In Thursday’s article, the Times unintentionally reveals how fuzzy the case against “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear” – the two alleged Russian government hacking operations – is.

The Times reports: “Rather than training, arming and deploying hackers to carry out a specific mission like just another military unit, Fancy Bear and its twin Cozy Bear have operated more as centers for organization and financing; much of the hard work like coding is outsourced to private and often crime-tainted vendors.”

Further, under the dramatic subhead – “A Bear’s Lair” – the Times reported that no such lair may exist: “Tracking the bear to its lair … has so far proved impossible, not least because many experts believe that no such single place exists.”

Lacking Witnesses

The Times’ article also noted the “absence of reliable witnesses” to resolve the mystery – so to the rescue came the “reliable” regime in Kiev, or as the Times wrote: “emerging from Ukraine is a sharper picture of what the United States believes is a Russian government hacking group.”

The Times then cited various cases of exposed Ukrainian government emails, again blaming the Russians albeit without any real evidence.

The Times suggested some connection between the alleged Russian hackers and a mistaken report on Russia’s Channel 1 about a Ukrainian election, which the Times claimed “inadvertently implicated the government authorities in Moscow.”

The Times’ “proof” in this case was that some hacker dummied a phony Internet page to look like an official Ukrainian election graphic showing a victory by ultra-right candidate, Dmytro Yarosh, when in fact Yarosh polled less than 1 percent. The hacker supposedly sent this “spoof” graphic to Channel 1, which used it.

But such an embarrassing error, which would have no effect on the actual election results, suggests an effort to discredit Channel 1 rather than evidence of a cooperative relationship between the mysterious hacker and the Russian station. The Times, however, made this example a cornerstone in its case against the Russians.

Meanwhile, the Times offered its readers almost no cautionary advice that – in the case of Russia-gate – Ukraine would have every motive to send U.S. investigators in directions harmful to Russia, much as happened with the MH-17 investigation.

So, we can expect that whatever “evidence” Ukraine “uncovers” will be accepted as gospel truth by the Times and much of the U.S. government – and anyone who dares ask inconvenient questions about its reliability will be deemed a “Kremlin stooge” spreading “Russian propaganda.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Syria: As the War Continues, WMD Lies Linger

A special investigation team collects evidence

A special investigation team collects evidence
By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 18.08.2017

Despite the now historical lies exposed in the wake of the devastating US invasion and occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003, the United States has attempted to use similar lies regarding weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) repeatedly as a pretext for similar wars including in neighboring Syria.

The Syrian government – perhaps in an effort to head off another round of accusations,  threats, and direct military aggression carried out by the US – is leveling accusations against the United States itself and terrorist organizations it has funded, armed, and backed for the past 6 years of using chemical weapons – primarily to create a pretext for wider war.

Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad stated at a press conference that the April 2017 Khan Shaykhun, Idlib chemical attack was staged by US-backed militants, including members of the so-called “White Helmets,” a US and European funded front posing as humanitarian workers but who serve as auxiliaries for listed terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda and its various Syrian affiliates.

As the Syrian military retakes territory from foreign-backed militants, munition warehouses and stockpiles, including those used for the production and deployment of chemical weapons for staged attacks, are being systematically uncovered. In them, chemical weapons – both lethal and nonlethal – provided by the United States and its allies are being discovered.

Mekdad would also point out that the use of chemical weapons by foreign-backed militants did not serve any sort of tactical purpose, but was instead being used as a form of blackmail.

While Western-dominated “international” institutions will likely not accept any evidence provided by the Syrian government – the Syrian government’s narrative emerges as a far more logical explanation for the last 6 years of conflict and accusations made regarding chemical weapon use.

Chemical Weapons are Political, Not Tactical 

Despite claims by the Western media made in an attempt to enhance US lies regarding WMDs, chemical weapons are particularly ineffective on the battlefield – with conventional weapons being many times more effective.

This was revealed in detail by a study produced by the United States itself, conducted by the US Marine Corps regarding the devastating Iran-Iraq War fought between 1980-1988 which saw the extensive use of chemical weapons.

wm2

It goes without saying that gas masks were a must during the Iran-Iraq war of the mid 80s

The document titled, “Lessons Learned: The Iran-Iraq War” under “Appendix B: Chemical Weapons,” provided a comprehensive look at the all-out chemical warfare that took place during the 8 year conflict. Several engagements are studied in detail, revealing large amounts of chemical agents deployed mainly to create areas of denial.

The effectiveness and lethality of chemical weapons is summarized in the document as follows (emphasis added):

Chemical weapons require quite particular weather and geographic conditions for optimum effectiveness. Given the relative nonpersistence of all agents employed during this war, including mustard, there was only a brief window of employment opportunity both daily and seasonally, when the agents could be used. Even though the Iraqis employed mustard agent in the rainy season and also in the marshes, its effectiveness was significantly reduced under those conditions. As the Iraqis learned to their chagrin, mustard is not a good agent to employ in the mountains, unless you own the high ground and your enemy is in the valleys.

We are uncertain as to the relative effectiveness of nerve agents since those which were employed are by nature much less persistent than mustard. In order to gain killing concentrations of these agents, predawn attacks are best, conducted in areas where the morning breezes are likely to blow away from friendly positions.

Chemical weapons have a low kill ratio. Just as in WWl, during which the ratio of deaths to injured from chemicals was 2-3 percent, that figure appears to be borne out again in this war although reliable data on casualties are very difficult to obtain. We deem it remarkable that the death rate should hold at such a low level even with the introduction of nerve agents. If those rates are correct, as they well may be, this further reinforces the position that we must not think of chemical weapons as “a poor man’s nuclear weapon.” While such weapons have great psychological potential, they are not killers or destroyers on a scale with nuclear or biological weapons.

According the US military’s own conclusions, the use of chemical weapons only enhance conventional warfare, but are not suitable for wiping out large swaths of enemy troops. Conventional weapons are deemed far more suitable for waging modern war.

The effectiveness of chemical weapons is such that the Syrian government could never justify their use, balancing their limited benefits against the knowledge the US was specifically seeking to use their use as a pretext for direct military intervention.

Thus, neither the Syrian government nor the foreign-backed militants it is fighting would benefit from their use in turning the tide of any specific battle, but should the US use chemical weapon deployments as a pretext, could intervene directly against the Syrian government, delivering victory to foreign-backed militants.

In essence, the only beneficiary of chemical weapon use by any side in Syria would be special interests in the US seeking regime change in Damascus.

Not only are outright lies regarding WMDs a known tactic repeatedly abused by the United States government worldwide, it has been caught repeatedly using this tactic in Syria. The number of ambiguous, unsubstantiated, or proven-false accusations made by the United States as it seeks a pretext for wider and more direct military intervention have multiplied over time as US-backed militants are pushed off the battlefield.

US Provocations, Lies, and Chemical Weapons 

Suspicious circumstances and familiar propaganda and diplomatic tactics were used by the US to rush the world to war – first in 2013 when an alleged chemical attack was carried out at the edge of Damascus. The attack followed multiple claims in 2012 by the US that the Syrian government was preparing such an attack, followed by threats of direct military intervention if the Syrian government did so.

This came at a time when it became apparent that quick regime change in Syria similar to that carried out by the US in Libya in 2011 was not possible and that only through direct military intervention would the US be able to topple the Syrian government.

In response, Syria relinquished its chemical weapons under a Russian-brokered deal, confirmed by UN inspectors. Despite this, chemical weapons continued turning up on the battlefield – followed by repeated attempts by the US to expand direct military intervention within Syrian borders each and every time.

No logical explanation has ever been provided by the United States – either by its politicians or its policymakers – as to why the Syrian government would repeatedly use ineffective chemical weapons in battles it was already winning with far more effective conventional weapons – and risk US military intervention.

Conversely, many of these attacks are carried out in areas held by terrorist organizations with direct access to the borders of their foreign sponsors. The more recent April 2017 alleged attack in Khan Shaykhun took place within the Idlib Governorate, directly on the border with NATO-member Turkey who has armed, supplied, and provided direct military support for Al Qaeda and its affiliates since the conflict began in 2011.

Consider the Source

The city of Idlib occupied by radical Islamists

The city of Idlib occupied by radical Islamists

Idlib has been controlled by Al Qaeda for years with even the New York Times and LA Times finally admitting as much.

The New York Times in a piece titled, “In a Syria Refuge, Extremists Exert Greater Control,” would admit:

“Idlib Province is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11,” Brett H. McGurk, the United States envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, said last month. “Idlib now is a huge problem.”

The LA Times in a piece titled, “Humanitarian groups fear aid is being diverted to terrorist group after militant takeover of Syrian province,” would reveal that torrents of supplies provided by the US, Europe, and their regional allies are still being poured into a city quite literally occupied by Al Qaeda, stating (emphasis added):

The recent takeover of the Syrian province of Idlib by an extremist organization has created a dilemma for the United States and other countries that send humanitarian aid to civilians and military aid to various rebel factions fighting the Syrian government.

It has become impossible to provide assistance without inadvertently supporting Al Nusra Front, a former affiliate of Al Qaeda that has been deemed a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

In reality, Al Qaeda’s domination of a region allegedly held by “rebels” provided billions in supplies, weapons, vehicles, training, and even direct military support by the West could only happen if Al Qaeda itself was receiving even more in state sponsorship – or were the recipients of this aid all along.

Both the New York Times and the LA Times in their articles, lace it with language meant to disarm readers from truly understanding the full scope of what the US has done in Syria. Claiming that the Al Nusra Front is a “former affiliate of Al Qaeda,” for instance, is supposed to create in the minds of readers the notion that they are no longer Al Qaeda, or terrorists when they are in fact very much still both.

The LA Times would even go as far as suggesting Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front would provide Western-backed organizations with “independence and neutrality.”

The LA Times also claims:

But cutting off the aid could spur a humanitarian disaster among the estimated 2 million civilians who live in Idlib and derail efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Efforts to “topple Syrian President Bashar Assad,” however, can only be done with an armed opposition – and as both the New York Times and LA Times admit, the only armed militants left in Syria are Al Qaeda.

What both newspapers are actually saying is that Al Qaeda has been cornered in Idlib where the US and its allies are still flooding with support, and that support quite literally for Al Qaeda will continue in an effort to topple the Syrian government.

This means that the process of fabricating chemical weapon attacks and using it as a pretext to directly intervene – on behalf of Al Qaeda – will continue as well, either to topple the government outright, or create a safe-haven protected by the US military for Al Qaeda in Idlib.

It is in this context then, that “humanitarian organizations” in Al Qaeda-held Idlib are claiming they are being targeted by chemical weapons allegedly deployed by the Syrian government.

The Syrian government and its allies have all but won the conflict and they have done so using conventional military weapons. They are also attempting in every way to expose these lingering and repetitive lies regarding WMDs wielded by the US, by inviting UN inspection teams to further explore newly liberated Syrian territory and further confirm that the Syrian government did indeed give up its chemical weapons as it agreed to in 2013.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Implementing Single Payer is Not Rocket Science

By Dr. Ida Hellander | Health Over Profit

Liberals have created a new single payer bogeyman to justify their renewed pursuit of failed incremental policies for health reform (“Medicare for All Isn’t the Solution for Universal Health Care” by Joshua Holland, The Nation, August 2).  It used to be that single payer was not “politically feasible”. Now, according to the likes of Joshua Holland, Harold Pollack, and Dean Baker, it’s that single payer advocates haven’t worked out a plan to “implement” single payer, or the “brass tacks.”

In fact, implementation is the easy part of health reform. The Canada Health Act is less than 14 pages long, and is only that long because it is also printed in French. Taiwan, which had a whopping 40 percent of its population uninsured in 1994, installed a universal, single payer system ahead of schedule in less than a year. The ease of adoption of the U.S.Medicare program, as Holland admits, also refutes the myth that a lack of policy detail will sink the single payer movement. Nearly every implementation issue Holland raises is already addressed in the Physicians Proposal for Single Payer National Health Insurance (2015) and Conyers’ bill, HR 676, which is the “gold standard” for single payer legislation.

The “single payer” envisioned in these proposals is not today’s Medicare, of course, but an improved version of Medicare, with more comprehensive benefits, and greater ability to control costs. HR 676 may not specify an exact financing plan, but gives specific enough parameters so that whatever financing plan is adopted (one possible version I worked on is below) will shift the burden from the sick and poor to the healthy and wealthy, and make care free at the point of delivery. Private employers only pay a paltry 20 percent of the current health care tab, which can be recouped with a small payroll tax or tax on corporate revenues (as recently proposed by Robert Pollin for California). Taxes already fund over 65 percent of health care in the U.S., so moving to a publicly-funded plan is a shift, not a radical change.

For one example of what the “brass tacks” of this shift might entail, Gerald Friedman, an economist at U. of Mass. at Amherst proposed this plan for the additional funding: a tax of 0.5 percent on stock trades and 0.01 percent tax per year to maturity on transactions in bonds, swaps, and trades (the so-called Tobin tax), a 6 percent high-income surtax (on households with incomes > $225,000), a 6 percent tax on unearned income from capital gains, dividends, interest, profits, and rents, a 6 percent payroll tax on the top 60 percent of income earners (with incomes over $53,000) and a 3 percent payroll tax on the bottom 40 percent of income earners. It could use a few tweaks, such as exempting people earning less than poverty from the payroll tax, but it’s otherwise a solid example of the kind of policy detail that advocates of incremental reform insist is missing.

Holland also wrongly asserts that physicians will have to be paid less under a single payer, which is false. There are many advantages to a single payer system, not least of which is the saving of $500 billion annually currently wasted on insurance overhead and excess provider bureaucracy – more than enough money to cover the extra costs of clinical care for the uninsured and under-insured, and to eliminate co-pays and deductibles for everyone, without cutting physician pay. Having said that, the single payer will have the ability to shift more funding towards primary care over time, which would help with both access and costs down the road.

Bizarrely, Holland tries to revive Jacob Hacker’s discredited proposal for a “public option” that would compete with private insurers. The premise for Hacker’s proposal is that Americans are “stubbornly attached” to employer-based insurance and don’t want to give it up.  Far from wanting to keep their rapidly shrinking employer-based coverage, polls show that about 2/3 of Americans consistently favor Medicare for All.  Adding one more insurance company to our fragmented and failing health system will not cover everyone or control costs.

Proposals for incremental reform to “fix” the ACA are on the Congressional agenda, but much more fundamental reform is needed. As Nina Turner, the new head of Sanders’ group Our Revolution, recently said, “If we can go to the moon we can have Medicare for all.” If Congress passed single payer today, we could implement it within a year and save tens of thousands of lives.” Time to get to work.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , | Leave a comment

Pentagon Denies Sending Chemical Agents to Syrian Opposition Groups

Sputnik – August 16, 2017

The Pentagon said Wednesday it had never sent chemical agents to so-called Syrian opposition groups after Damascus accused the United States of supplying terrorists with toxic agents.

US military assistance to vetted Syrian opposition forces is limited to those fighting against the Daesh terrorist group (banned in Russia) and has never included chemical agents, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Sputnik on Wednesday.

The statement comes after Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad accused US and UK-based companies of supplying toxic agents to terrorists, adding that CS and CN substances, allegedly produced by NonLethal Technologies and Chemring Defence, were found in Aleppo and Damascus.

“Department of Defense assistance to Vetted Syrian Opposition groups is limited to those groups fighting ISIS [Daesh]. That assistance does NOT now, nor has it ever, included chemical agents like you describe,” Pahon said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the fact that the United States and the United Kingdom could have supplied toxic agents to militants in Syria is “beyond understanding.” The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in June that its fact-finding mission confirmed that man-made chemical sarin, a gas used as a chemical weapon, was used in an attack on Khan Shaikhoun in Idlib in early April, but did not determine who was responsible.

The US-backed militias blamed the use of chemical weapons on the Syrian government, despite Syrian President Assad told Sputnik following the attack in April that there was no chemical weapons  in Idlib.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES OF THE UNCIVIL WAR

A Brief Explanation of the Impact of the Morrill Tariff

By Mike Scruggs for the Tribune Papers

Most Americans believe the U. S. “Civil War” was over slavery. They have to an enormous degree been miseducated. The means and timing of handling the slavery issue were at issue, although not in the overly simplified moral sense that lives in postwar and modern propaganda. But had there been no Morrill Tariff there might never have been a war. The conflict that cost of the lives of 650,000 Union and Confederate soldiers and perhaps as many as 50,000 Southern civilians and impoverished many millions for generations might never have been.

A smoldering issue of unjust taxation that enriched Northern manufacturing states and exploited the agricultural South was fanned to a furious blaze in 1860. It was the Morrill Tariff that stirred the smoldering embers of regional mistrust and ignited the fires of Secession in the South. This precipitated a Northern reaction and call to arms that would engulf the nation in the flames of war for four years.

Prior to the U. S. “Civil War” there was no U. S. income tax. Considerably more than 90% of U. S. government revenue was raised by a tariff on imported goods. A tariff is a tax on selected imports, most commonly finished or manufactured products. A high tariff is usually legislated not only to raise revenue, but also to protect domestic industry form foreign competition. By placing such a high, protective tariff on imported goods it makes them more expensive to buy than the same domestic goods. This allows domestic industries to charge higher prices and make more money on sales that might otherwise be lost to foreign competition because of cheaper prices (without the tariff) or better quality. This, of course, causes domestic consumers to pay higher prices and have a lower standard of living. Tariffs on some industrial products also hurt other domestic industries that must pay higher prices for goods they need to make their products. Because the nature and products of regional economies can vary widely, high tariffs are sometimes good for one section of the country, but damaging to another section of the country. High tariffs are particularly hard on exporters since they must cope with higher domestic costs and retaliatory foreign tariffs that put them at a pricing disadvantage. This has a depressing effect on both export volume and profit margins. High tariffs have been a frequent cause of economic disruption, strife and war.

Prior to 1824 the average tariff level in the U. S. had been in the 15 to 20 % range. This was thought sufficient to meet federal revenue needs and not excessively burdensome to any section of the country. The increase of the tariff to a 20% average in 1816 was ostensibly to help pay for the War of 1812. It also represented a 26% net profit increase to Northern manufacturers.

In 1824 Northern manufacturing states and the Whig Party under the leadership of Henry Clay began to push for high, protective tariffs. These were strongly opposed by the South. The Southern economy was largely agricultural and geared to exporting a large portion of its cotton and tobacco crops to Europe. In the 1850’s the South accounted for anywhere from 72 to 82% of U. S. exports. They were largely dependent, however, on Europe or the North for the manufactured goods needed for both agricultural production and consumer needs. Northern states received about 20% of the South’s agricultural production. The vast majority of export volume went to Europe. A protective tariff was then a substantial benefit to Northern manufacturing states, but meant considerable economic hardship for the agricultural South

Northern political dominance enabled Clay and his allies in Congress to pass a tariff averaging 35% late in 1824. This was the cause of economic boom in the North, but economic hardship and political agitation in the South. South Carolina was especially hard hit, the State’s exports falling 25% over the next two years. In 1828 in a demonstration of unabashed partisanship and unashamed greed the Northern dominated Congress raised the average tariff level to 50%. Despite strong Southern agitation for lower tariffs the Tariff of 1832 only nominally reduced the effective tariff rate and brought no relief to the South. These last two tariffs are usually termed in history as the Tariffs of Abomination.

This led to the Nullification Crisis of 1832 when South Carolina called a state convention and “nullified” the 1828 and 1832 tariffs as unjust and unconstitutional. The resulting constitutional crisis came very near provoking armed conflict at that time. Through the efforts of former U. S. Vice President and U. S. Senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun, a compromise was effected in 1833 which over a few years reduced the tariff back to a normal level of about 15%. Henry Clay and the Whigs were not happy, however, to have been forced into a compromise by Calhoun and South Carolina’s Nullification threat. The tariff, however, remained at a level near 15% until 1860. A lesson in economics, regional sensitivities, and simple fairness should have been learned from this confrontation, but if it was learned, it was ignored by ambitious political and business factions and personalities that would come on the scene of American history in the late 1850’s.

High protective tariffs were always the policy of the old Whig Party and had become the policy of the new Republican Party that replaced it. A recession beginning around 1857 gave the cause of protectionism an additional political boost in the Northern industrial states.

In May of 1860 the U. S. Congress passed the Morrill Tariff Bill (named for Republican Congressman and steel manufacturer, Justin S. Morrill of Vermont) raising the average tariff from about 15% to 37% with increases to 47% within three years. Although this was remarkably reminiscent of the Tariffs of Abomination which had led in 1832 to a constitutional crisis and threats of secession and armed force, the U. S. House of Representatives passed the Bill 105 to 64. Out of 40 Southern Congressmen only one Tennessee Congressman voted for it.

  1. S. tariff revenues already fell disproportionately on the South, accounting for 87% of the total. While the tariff protected Northern industrial interests, it raised the cost of living and commerce in the South substantially. It also reduced the trade value of their agricultural exports to Europe. These combined to place a severe economic hardship on many Southern states. Even more galling was that 80% or more of these tax revenues were expended on Northern public works and industrial subsidies, thus further enriching the North at the expense of the South.

In the 1860 election, Lincoln, a former Whig and great admirer of Henry Clay, campaigned for the high protective tariff provisions of the Morrill Tariff, which had also been incorporated into the Republican Party Platform. Lincoln further endorsed the Morrill Tariff and its concepts in his first inaugural speech and signed the Act into law a few days after taking office in March of 1861. Southern leaders had seen it coming. Southern protests had been of no avail. Now the South was inflamed with righteous indignation, and Southern leaders began to call for Secession.

At first Northern public opinion as reflected in Northern newspapers of both parties recognized the right of the Southern States to secede and favored peaceful separation. A November 21, 1860, editorial in the Cincinnati Daily Press said this:

“We believe that the right of any member of this Confederacy to dissolve its political relations with the others and assume an independent position is absolute.”

The New York Times on March 21, 1861, reflecting the great majority of editorial opinion in the North summarized in an editorial:

“There is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”

Northern industrialists became nervous, however, when they realized a tariff dependent North would be competing against a free trade South. They feared not only loss of tax revenue, but considerable loss of trade. Newspaper editorials began to reflect this nervousness. Lincoln had promised in his inaugural speech that he would preserve the Union and the tariff. Three days after manipulating the South into firing on the tariff collection facility of Fort Sumter in volatile South Carolina, on April 15, 1861, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the Southern rebellion. This caused the Border States to secede along with the Gulf States. Lincoln undoubtedly calculated that the mere threat of force backed by more unified Northern public opinion would quickly put down secession. His gambit, however, failed spectacularly and would erupt into a terrible and costly war for four years. The Union Army’s lack of success early in the war, the need to keep anti-slavery England from coming into the war on the side of the South, and Lincoln’s need to appease the radical abolitionists in the North led to increasing promotion of freeing the slaves as a noble cause to justify what was really a dispute over just taxation and States Rights.

Writing in December of 1861 in a London weekly publication, the famous English author, Charles Dickens, who was a strong opponent of slavery, said these things about the war going on in America:

“The Northern onslaught upon slavery is no more than a piece of specious humbug disguised to conceal its desire for economic control of the United States.”

“Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this as many, many other evils. The quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.”

Karl Marx, like most European socialists of the time favored the North. In an 1861 article published in England, he articulated very well what the major British newspapers, the Times, the Economist, and Saturday Review, had been saying:

“The war between the North and South is a tariff war. The war, is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for power.”

A horrific example of the damage that protective tariffs can exact was also seen in later history. One of the causes of the Great Depression of 1930-1939 was the Hawley-Smoot Act, a high tariff passed in 1930 that Congress mistakenly thought would help the country. While attempting to protect domestic industry from foreign imports, the unanticipated effect was to reduce the nation’s exports and thereby help increase unemployment to the devastating figure of 25%. It is fairly well known by competent and honest economists now that protective tariffs usually do more harm than good, often considerably more harm than good. However, economic ignorance and political expediency often combine to overrule longer-term public good. As the Uncivil War of 1861-5 proves, the human and economic costs for such shortsighted political expediency and partisan greed can be enormous.

The Morrill Tariff illustrates very well one of the problems with majoritarian democracy. A majority can easily exploit a regional, economic, ethnic, or religious minority (or any other minority) unmercifully unless they have strong constitutional guarantees that can be enforced, e. g., States Rights, Nullification, etc. The need to limit centralized government power to counter this natural depravity in men was recognized by the founding fathers. They knew well the irresistible tendencies in both monarchy and democracy for both civil magistrates and the electorate to succumb to the temptations of greed, self-interest, and the lust for power. Thus they incorporated into the Constitution such provisions as the separation of powers and very important provisions enumerating and delegating only certain functions and powers to the federal government and retaining others at the state level and lower. Such constitutional provisions including the very specific guaranty of States Rights and limits to the power of the Federal Government in the 10th Amendment are unfortunately now largely ignored by all three branches of the Federal Government, and their constant infringement seldom contested by the States.

The Tariff question and the States Rights question were therefore strongly linked. Both are linked to the broader issues of limited government and a strong Constitution. The Morrill Tariff dealt the South a flagrant political injustice and impending economic hardship and crisis. It therefore made Secession a very compelling alternative to an exploited and unequal union with the North.

How to handle the slavery question was an underlying tension between North and South, but one of many tensions. It cannot be said to be the cause of the war. Fully understanding the slavery question and its relations to those tensions is beyond the scope of this article, but numerous historical facts demolish the propagandistic morality play that a virtuous North invaded the evil South to free the slaves. Five years after the end of the War, prominent Northern abolitionist, attorney and legal scholar, Lysander Spooner, put it this way:

“All these cries of having ‘abolished slavery,’ of having ‘saved the country,’ of having ‘preserved the Union,’ of establishing a ‘government of consent,’ and of ‘maintaining the national honor’ are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats—so transparent that they ought to deceive no one.”

Yet apparently many today are still deceived, are deliberately deceived, and even prefer to be deceived.

Unjust taxation has been the cause of many tensions and much bloodshed throughout history and around the world. The Morrill Tariff was certainly a powerful factor predisposing the South to seek its independence and determine its own destiny. As outrageous and unjust as the Morrill Tariff was, its importance has been largely ignored and even purposely obscured. It does not fit the politically correct images and myths of popular American history. Truth, however, is always the high ground. It will have the inevitable victory.

In addition to the devastating loss of life and leadership during the War, the South suffered considerable damage to property, livestock, and crops. The policies of “Reconstruction” and “carpetbagger” state governments further exploited and robbed the South, considerably retarding economic recovery. Further, high tariffs and discriminatory railroad shipping taxes continued to favor Northern economic interests and impoverish the South for generations after the war. It is only in relatively recent history that the political and economic fortunes of the South have begun to rise.

One last point needs to be made. The war of 1861-65 was not a “civil” war. To call it the “Civil War” is not a historically accurate and honest use of language. It is the propaganda of the victors having attained popular usage. No one in the South was attempting to overthrow the U. S. government. Few Southerners had any interest in overthrowing their own or anyone else’s state governments. The Southern states had seen that continued union with the North would jeopardize their liberties and economic wellbeing. Through the proper constitutional means of state conventions and referendums they sought to withdraw from the Union and establish their independence just as the American Colonies had sought their independence from Great Britain in 1776 and for very similar reasons. The Northern industrialists, however, were not willing to give up their Southern Colonies. A more appropriate name for the uncivil war of 1861-65 would be “The War for Southern Independence.”

But had it not been for the Morrill Tariff there would have been no rush to Secession by Southern states and very probably no war. The Morrill Tariff of 1860, so unabashed and unashamed in its short-sighted, partisan greed, stands as an astonishing monument to the self-centered depravity of man and to its consequences. No wonder most Americans would like to see it forgotten and covered over with a more morally satisfying but largely false version of the causes of the Uncivil War.

Mike Scruggs is an historian who now lives in Hendersonville, NC

 

Principal References and Recommended Reading:

 

Charles Adams; For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes in the Course of Civilization, 1993.

 

Charles Adams; When in the Course of Human Events: Argueing the Case for Southern Secession, 2000.

 

Frank Conner; The South Under Siege 1830-2000; A History of the Relations Between North and South, 2002.

 

John G. Van Deusen; Economic Bases of Disunion in South Carolina, 1928. Reprinted by Crown Rights Book Company, 2003.

 

Thomas J. DiLorenzo; The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, 2002.

 

Ludwell H. Johnson; North Against South: The American Iliad 1848-1977, 2002 printing.

 

Mark Thornton; Tariffs, Blockades and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, 2004.

 

Principal Reference and Recommended Listening

 

Dr. David Livingston; Rethinking Lincoln: Abe Lincoln and Slavery, Lectures at League of South Conference, 2000. Available on cassette or CD at Apologia Book Shoppe online. A valuable portion of this lecture concerns the Morrill Tariff.

 

Revised 4 June 2005

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments